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Deportations were like a family picnic - claim

Nov 15, 2007
In cooperation with BNS

TALLINN -- A new book by a Russian historian claims Estonia's recollection of the 1941 forced deportations to Siberia is too harsh. In The Myth About Genocide, revisionist historian Alexander Dyukov paints a picture of Soviet repressions as little worse than a family picnic, Eesti Ekspess reports.

Dyukov admits that certain repressions did take place but says the way they are depicted in Estonia has been exaggerated, initially for anti-Soviet and later for anti-Russian reasons. Concerning the deportations of June 1941 he declared that it was a move the Soviet Union was forced to take because of the war situation, and the same applies to the annexation of the Baltic states in general.

"If Baltic nationalists had not cooperated with German special services and had not prepared for acts of diversion, there would have been no need for deportation. It was the activity of nationalists and of Nazi agents that provoked the deportations - and Estonian historians prefer to keep silent about it," the historian writes.

Eesti Ekspress points out that at the time of the first deportations, the war with Germanyhad not yet begun. At that time, the Soviet Union was itself collaborating with Germanyby means of the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop 'pact of steel'. Despite that fact, Dykov describes the June 1941 deportations as if they had taken place in a frontline situation.

In Dyukov's interpretation the 1941 deportation did not greatly differ from a family outing to the countryside, albeit in somewhat cramped circumstances. The Soviet Union generally took good care the people it decided to resettle, he said

The author writes of how, according to NKVD security police instructions, doctors and army surgical assistants took care of the health of those being forcibly transported. According to Dyukov, it was prohibited to accommodate more than 30 persons per rail truck. He also claims that the deportees were well fed.

The 1941 deportations in Estoniabegan on June 14, 1941. There were 11,102 people on the Soviet blacklist, but not all of them could be found, so just over 10,000 were eventually deported. The people were woken up during the night and escorted to collection points by armed guards. The deportees were loaded on rail cars meant for the carriage of cattle, more than 50 persons per car.

Around 3,500 adult men were separated from their families and sent to labor camps. By 1942 only about 200 of them were still alive. Around half the 6,500 women and children died of cold, starvation and overwork in Siberia, despite the apparently caring attitude of the Soviet authorities. 

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